“We are finding psyllids, but there are no infestations in commercial groves in California so we haven’t had to treat for it yet, we’ve just been in quarantine,” Hathcock said.
“It’s a scary prospect, but they tell me that when we have to treat for psyllids, there will be an organic option for a spray,” he said. “They don’t have one yet but there are certain things that work … they’re looking at what would be the best kill rate and the most cost-effective.”
Consumer education is also key to the future of organics, Mabs said.
“Most people relate organic to lack of pesticides,” he said, “but it’s a lot more than that. It’s nutrition, how we manage the soil and fertilization, to create a good environment for the tree rather than feeding it nutrients that aren’t natural.”
Claire Smith, director of communications for Sunkist Growers, Bakersfield Calif., said Sunkist’s organic citrus program continues to grow with volume and varieties.
“Each year we have seen additional acreage transitioning into organic production,” she said. “Our estimates for this navel season, for example, are more than double last season’s numbers. Sunkist’s goal is to provide a consistent quality supply of organic citrus.”